Grad student pairs travel, service passions to support children’s hospital
Aug. 31, 2023 – DENTON – When you can’t find a path, make your own.
A Texas Woman’s graduate student took those words to heart with an inspiring volunteer trip to Central America.
Theodore Fields III combined his passions for traveling and service with a tailor-made trip to Antigua, Guatemala. The dual MBA/MHA graduate student in the College of Business spent two weeks volunteering in July with the GOD’S CHILD Project, which provides support in education, medical care, housing and food security to vulnerable children and families.
Fields helped create and improve procedures at Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children. The hospital has helped over 2,000 children recover from malnutrition and life-threatening starvation.
“My experience in Antigua was humbling,” Fields said. “It wasn’t my first time doing service work, but it was the first time being able to leverage my work with my passion.”
When Fields started looking at study abroad trips, he was initially disappointed that he couldn’t find something that checked all his boxes. After not taking a study abroad trip in college, Fields had been set on traveling in graduate school. Yet, after having a conversation with Annie Phillips, PhD, executive director at TWU’s International Affairs Department, he realized that creating an independent trip would be a better fit for him.
“Dr. Phillips was excited for me,” Fields said. “She told me I should tailor make a trip and make it what I want. With my background in medicine, and now in business, it was really interesting to me to do that.”
Phillips pointed him in the direction of GOD’S CHILD Project, and Fields connected with its programs and scholarship director Alyza Streeter. They talked numerous times about how Fields could help with his skillset. Fields was excited about exploring Guatemala and volunteering in a grassroots capacity.
When Fields finally walked through the doors of Casa Jackson Hospital months later, he thought he would be helping with the development of mobile clinics. Yet, after spending a few days talking to the staff and observing the daily operations, he realized that wasn’t the most pressing issue.
“I realized how important being face to face is because working on this mobile clinic was not something that was paramount to them,” Fields said. “There were things internally that they needed help with, like with improving some of their procedures. Once I figured out what they needed, I took it and ran with it in the second week,” Fields said.
He spent the second week working on his laptop in the various cafes in Antigua. While sampling different types of local coffee, Fields worked on developing protocols aimed at improving the admittance process, after-care/discharge instructions and nurse training.
“One of Theodore's significant contributions was providing written documentation that guides our nurses as they assess and care for the children who enter our program,” Streeter said. “This resource not only improves the quality of care but also fosters a sense of consistency and professionalism among our medical team.”
Patients may not realize that checking in at a doctor’s office, filling out forms, answering questions about their health and receiving care are all based on established procedures.
“Theodore’s dedication to health administration has truly left a lasting mark on our organization and the communities we serve,” Streeter said. “The documentation Theodore produced during his time with us has laid a solid foundation for our future endeavors.”
Fields hopes to return to Guatemala with quarterly or semi-annual visits. He will graduate in December 2024 and plans to commission as an officer in the Navy's Medical Corps.
“I believe my passion is rooted in service, in whatever capacity,” Fields said.
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Page last updated 1:49 PM, August 31, 2023